“Prospecting Prospects” is a series at Baseball Babble profiling minor league players. It covers their background, minor league career, interesting facts and gives you a prediction on when they will make an impact at the major league level. Stay ahead of the game by getting to know these players!
Anythony Alford – OF – Toronto Blue Jays
The Basics: Age 21 born in Columbia, Mississippi, listed at 6’1″ and 205 pounds, throws and bats right-handed. Alford was a duel sports high school star, playing both Football as quarterback and Baseball. In the 2012 draft he was projected to go in the first round but he made it clear his intentions were to attend university and purse his football career. As a result the Blue Jays drafted him in the 3rd round as the 112th pick. The Blue Jays were successful in signing Alford by awarding him a $750,000 bonus and allowing him to attend university, play football and then play baseball in the summer.Their hope was that eventually he would pursue baseball and felt the risk had a strong potential reward.
Milb Career: In 2012 at age 17 Alford played in five games in the GLC hitting just .167 with a .250 OBP and 4 SB. In 2013 he would return to the GLC for 6 games and improved his AVG to .227 along with a more robust .414 OPB. In 2014 Alford played in 14 games between The Appalachian League and Class-A ball for the Lansing Lugnuts where he hit .259 with a .333 OPB and 5 SB. In the fall of 2014 Alford announced that he would no longer pursue his University and Football pursuits and join the Blue Jays organization full-time. This allowed Alford to get more work in instructional ball in the Australian Baseball League getting in 36 games, 152 AB and he posted a .200 AVG along with a .316 OBP.
Up until this point Alford had not shown his true potential but with now his entire focus on baseball many believed he could break out in 2015 since he was still just 20 years old. At the start of 2015 he was more on the back side of the Blue Jays prospect lists which at the start of the season was still fairly strong. 2015 was a very strong year for Alford, he started again with the Lugnuts played in 50 games before being promoted to Dunedin for another 57 games. All told he compiled a very strong .298/398/421 line with 27 SB over the 107 games. This propelled Alford to the top of the Blue Jays prospect lists. He moved up to 25th overall by Keith Law, #1 on the Blue Jays by MLB.com and 42nd overall. While still at a young age Alford has plenty of time to work on his craft and develop further.
Future: Alford has yet to play at the AA level and should be there this season in his age 21 season. So there still is some development to be done but with his Speed, Defense, On base skills he is projected to be a future CF option and top of the order hitter. At the moment he is behind Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista on the depth charts and is also blocked by Junior Lake and Ezequiel Carrera on the reserve list. There is very little expectation he will be seen this season but with a strong showing could make a case as a September call up to get a better read on his 2017 potential.
Pompey has the best shot of replacing either Saunders or Bautista in 2017 depending on the teams transactions and his 2016 season. However, Alford with further development will very much be on the radar for 2017 as a call up or to battle for a spot at the start of the year. At the very least he should be seen in 2017 and get a shot by 2018. With 2 potential OF spots opening up for the Blue Jays in 2017, Alford has risen his stock at the perfect timing.
Conclusions: Anthony Alford has a very legitimate shot at seeing the big leagues in the coming years as mentioned. Because of his On base skills, speed and defense at worst he is a 4th OF but has starting potential. He so far lacks power but makes up for that with his On base and speed skills. My best prediction would be that he makes his debut in 2017 as the 2016 depth is very deep and with 2 spots opening in 2017 he should find his way on the roster by mid-season. I suspect he will fight for a starting role by 2018 and join Pompey and Pillar in the OF rotation. An OF of Pompey, Pillar and Alford would be a very nice and athletic look combination with 3 true center fielders in the mix.